Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: Palestinians present their own account of what happened in recent negotiations, after Israel leaked its version. The UNSC condemns recent bombing attacks on Israeli diplomats. Two Palestinians are injured in an Israeli airsrike on Gaza. A crisis emerges in Palestinian unity negotiations. The BBC looks at the roots of the crisis. Hamas denies being a obstacle to national unity, or a factor in unrest in Egypt. Occupation forces clash with Palestinian protesters at East Jerusalem holy sites. The US refuses a visa to a right-wing extremist Jewish MK. 400 Palestinians protest in occupied Hebron to open one of the city's main streets to Palestinian traffic. COMMENTARY: Dalia Dassa Kaye says Israel faces bad options regarding Iran's nuclear program. Doron Rosenblum says the current Israeli government doesn't seem to think past the use of force. Xinhua looks at how Israel's coalition politics might affect its foreign policy. Chemi Shalev says Israel's quest for close allies beyond the US and Western Europe is pointless. Tal Becker asks if “delegitimization” is a threat or a nuisance to Israel. J.J. Goldberg says Pres. Obama and PM Netanyahu might agree on Iran more than many think, but they don't trust each other. Paul Findlay says Israel wants to bomb Iran to preserve its nuclear monopoly. Michael Broning says the apparent new flexibility of some Hamas leaders should be tested by engagement. Hasan Barari says Israel is faced with strategic dilemmas regarding the future of Syria. John Dugard says there are some important similarities between Israel's occupation and apartheid in South Africa but that doesn't mean the same response makes sense.

Palestinian Negotiator: Israel Presented No Position or Offer in Amman Talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

The only document Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far presented to the Palestinians during the recent peace talks in Amman is a list of 21 topics for discussion in negotiations on a final-status agreement, Haaretz has learned.

UN Security Council Condemns Terrorist Attacks aimed at Israel in India and Georgia
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Associated Press
February 23, 2012 - 1:00am

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council is strongly condemning the terrorist attack aimed at Israel in India and the attempted terrorist attack in Georgia. The bombing in New Delhi injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat and her driver while an attempted attack the same day in Georgia was thwarted. The Security Council said late Thursday that “any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed.” It reaffirmed the need to combat threats to peace caused by terrorist acts.

Israeli Warplanes Fire on Gaza City, Injure 2
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warplanes fired on a Gaza City neighborhood early Friday, lightly injuring two Palestinian fighters. The airstrike on the Zeitoun neighborhood injured two militants who were evacuated to hospital, emergency services' spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said. Their identities and affiliations were not immediately identified. An Israeli army statement said the warplanes hit "two terror activity sites in the northern Gaza Strip...in response to the rockets fired at Israel."

Palestinian Unity Talks in Crisis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - February 23, 2012 - 1:00am

Palestinian unity talks in Cairo faced a crisis on Thursday as President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal agreed to postpone talks about the formation of a new government, a PA official in Ramallah said. A sharp dispute within Hamas over the recent Qatari-brokered reconciliation deal between Abbas and Mashaal was hindering the establishment of a Palestinian unity government, the official said. On Wednesday, Hamas’s political bureau announced its support for the deal following a 14-hour stormy meeting in the Egyptian capital.

Palestinian Unity Undermined by Geographic Divide
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Jon Donnison - February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

The two main Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, are still trying to thrash out the details of a unity deal to end five years of bitter division. Since 2007, Hamas has been in power in Gaza with Fatah left to govern the West Bank. So, Palestinians face not only a political divide, but also a geographical one. "I just want to see my father. We only have photos and phone calls. It's hard to remember what he's like," says 13-year-old, Uday al-Haddar. Sitting alongside his mother, Alya, and two younger brothers, Uday shows me the family album.

Hamas Denies Placing Barriers to Unity
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas officials on Thursday played down reports that the movement was placing barriers in front of a reconciliation deal it signed with Fatah earlier this month. Party spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Hamas was moving forward with the deal in line with the terms agreed in Doha by President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal. Barhoum was responding to reports that a Hamas official said the group was setting new terms for implementing the deal, including demands for certain ministries.

Hamas Denies Involvement in Egypt’s Unrest
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

CAIRO, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haneya denied that the Islamic movement had involved in Egypt's unrest last year, as claimed by Egyptian former Interior Minister Habib Adly, state media reported Thursday. In the final day of ex-President Hosni Mubarak's trial, Adly blamed elements from Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and Islamic Hamas movement for sending infiltrators to break the line of peaceful protests, creating chaos and sabotaging.

Israeli Forces Clash With Worshippers at Al-Aqsa
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday, exchanging a volley of tear gas and rocks. Israeli troops entered the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Compound) after the Friday noon prayer, and fired tear and and sound grenades, causing confusion amongst the large crowds who worship at the holy site on Fridays, a Ma'an correspondent said. Palestinian youth threw rocks at the forces, witnesses told Ma'an, adding that high security measures were imposed throughout Jerusalem.

U.S. refuses to grant visa to Israeli MK due to his membership in 'terror group'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - February 23, 2012 - 1:00am

The U.S. government refused to grant a visa to National Union MK Michael Ben Ari, on the basis of his membership in a "terror organization." Ben Ari recently submitted a request to the U.S. consulate for a visa, so he could take part in two conferences held in the United States this week, one aimed at encouraging aliyah to Israel.

400 protest to open thoroughfare to Palestinians in Hebron
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

Some 400 Palestinian and left-wing activists protested in Hebron on Friday, calling for the West Bank city's al-Shouhada Street to be opened up to Palestinian traffic. The day also marked eighteen years since Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians at the Ibrahim Mosque at the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994. IDF and Border Patrol forces prevented the protesters from marching to al-Shouhada Street by dispersing the crowd with stun grenades.

Israel's risky option on Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Los Angeles Times
by Dalia Dassa Kaye - (Opinion) February 21, 2012 - 1:00am

Talk of a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is not subsiding. If diplomacy can't head off Iran's nuclear ambitions, advocates for a military strike in Israel and the United States will only gain strength. While proponents may believe that Israel can endure the short-term military and diplomatic fallout of such action, the long-term consequences are likely to be disastrous for Israel's security.

If there were no Iranian threat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Doron Rosenblum - (Opinion) February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

None of the people who, correctly, fear an Israeli attack on Iran and the war that would follow have considered the fact that "the next war" is already here. It has been entrenched in our consciousness and that of our leaders so deeply and for so long that most of the tension concerns its timing, not its probability. What was it that Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was quoted as saying this week?

News Analysis: Will Netanyahu's shaky coalition affect Israel's foreign policies?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Ronen Medzini - (Analysis) February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

JERUSALEM, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- A stormy political week in Israel may advance elections, originally scheduled for October 2013 to this year, and possibly impact crucial decisions on Iran's nuclear program and negotiations with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's week of sorrows started on Sunday, with the forced resignation of his bureau chief and closest personal adviser, Natan Eshel, who signed a plea admitting to "unbecoming conduct" after harassing a female co-worker.

Israel can rely only on America and (sigh) the countries of Western Europe
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Chemi Shalev - (Opinion) February 23, 2012 - 1:00am

The New York Times reported this week that Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has bestowed a prestigious Pushkin Medal on Ali Ukla Ursan, a Syrian poet who has praised the 9/11 terrorist attacks and depicted Jews as “Nazi racists”. This is the same Russia that has been aiding and abetting mass murderers in Damascus. The same Russia that has been serving as a defensive shield for the nuclearmongers in Tehran. The same Russia that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would like to see as Israel’s new “strategic partner”.

Delegitimization: Nuisance or Threat?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Shalom Hartman Institute
by Tal Becker - (Opinion) February 22, 2012 - 1:00am

It is Israel Apartheid Week this week on campuses, but chances are you would not know it unless you just read this sentence. A study, just prepared by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, reveals that in the last four years Israel Apartheid Week was mentioned fewer than 400 times in non-Israeli, non-Jewish media outlets with an audience of 100,000 or more. Even more remarkable is that in 2011, some 65 percent of the coverage appeared in Israeli or Jewish media outlets.

Distrust Divides Bibi and Barack on Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by J.J. Goldberg - (Opinion) February 23, 2012 - 1:00am

As President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepare to meet in Washington March 5 to thrash out their Iran differences, observers everywhere are scrambling to sort out exactly what the two men disagree about and what can be done to bridge the gaps. The answers, surprisingly, are: not much — and not much. What separates them is not serious disagreement, but deep distrust. And that’s not easy to fix.

Why Israel wants to bomb Iran
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Paul Findley - (Opinion) February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

Will Iran bomb Israel into rubble, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, if the Tehran regime is someday armed with nuclear weapons? No one of my acquaintances believes that will ever happen, nor do thoughtful Israelis. But many people believe Israel will soon use conventional bombs to disable Iranian nuclear research facilities. All of us should ponder why.

Engage Hamas’ moderates and test their newfound flexibility
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Michael Broning - (Opinion) February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

In the wake of revolutionary change in the Middle East, the forces of political Islam have scored one electoral victory after another. As the West grapples with the rapid rise of moderate Islamists in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, the issue of Hamas’ role in the Palestinian territories looms large. The signing of a new unity deal between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ secular Fatah party earlier this month has heightened an unprecedented struggle within Hamas over its future course as an Islamist movement. How the West responds could very well influence the outcome.

Israel faces strategic uncertainty over Syrian uprising
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Hassan Barari - (Opinion) February 23, 2012 - 1:00am

The unfolding events in Syria have posed a question that Israelis still grapple with: How should Israel react to the crisis in Syria? The public debate in Israel with regard to the best scenario that can happen in Syria is far from conclusive. While, Israelis on the whole find Syria under President Bashar Assad a hard nut to crack, yet his demise is not necessarily in the best interest for Tel Aviv for the short run.

Similarities, but no similar response
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
(Interview) February 23, 2012 - 1:00am

An interview with John Dugard Bitterlemons-InternationaI (BI): You wrote recently that, while there are differences in Israel's practices and those of apartheid South Africa (namely that black South Africans were citizens), there are similarities in the areas of discrimination, repression and territorial fragmentation. Can you touch briefly on those areas?

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